CLAS faculty member E Cram wins 2023 Rhetoric Society of America Book Award

The communication studies associate professor received this year’s RSA Book Award.
Friday, June 23, 2023

By Charlotte Brookins 

The Rhetoric Society of America (RSA) has announced E Cram as the winner of its 2023 Book Award for their 2022 work entitled Violent Inheritance: Sexuality, Land, Energy, and the Making of the North American West. This award is presented annually to the best publication by an RSA member published during the current academic year. This year, Cram’s book was chosen as one of two winners out of thirty nominations. 

E Cram and their book
E Cram

“I was honored to receive this award, which is bestowed by my peers within the Rhetoric Society of America,” says Cram. “Our discipline at the RSA is often on the cutting edge of interdisciplinary humanistic work, and this award is a testament to the ways in which my colleagues have supported my interdisciplinary scholarship throughout my career.” 

Cram, who is an associate professor appointed in both communication studies and gender, women's and sexuality studies, is also an associate editor of the Oxford Encyclopedia of Queer Studies and Communication, focuses much of their research on cultural, rhetorical, queer, and environmental studies. Violent Inheritance uses archival work to combine these topics and examine the convergence of racialization, sexualization, and violence in settler colonialism.  

“Violent Inheritance examines the history of sexuality as a story about energy in ways that establish connections between the knowledge systems of the 19th century and much larger energy regimes that constituted American myths of land exploration, fossil fuels, and broader ideas of national vitality,” Cram describes. “I draw from over 10 years of archival and ethnographic history, especially regarding contested memory sites. This research matters because it can teach us how to engage with cultures of energy and environment at a critical juncture for the planet.” 

Cram is currently producing a podcast for their second project, Disability Ecologies of Care and Memory, which is a book examining the rhetorical life of the Johnson County Historic Poor Farm with regard to disability cultural memory. The book examines connections between historic preservation and restoration, food systems communication, and disability history. They are also collaborating with San Francisco State University professor Constance Gordon on a digital humanities project tracing abundance in the environment entitled The Abundant Ecologies Collaborative.  

Cram has had essays featured in a variety of academic publications such as the Quarterly Journal of Speech and Queering the Countryside: New Directions in Rural Queer Studies. They also received the Stephen Lucas Debut Publication Award from the National Communication Association in 2014. 


The University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences offers about 70 majors across the humanities; fine, performing and literary arts; natural and mathematical sciences; social and behavioral sciences; and communication disciplines. About 15,000 undergraduate and nearly 2,000 graduate students study each year in the college’s 37 departments, led by faculty at the forefront of teaching and research in their disciplines. The college teaches all Iowa undergraduates through the college's general education program, CLAS CORE. About 80 percent of all Iowa undergraduates begin their academic journey in CLAS. The college confers about 60 percent of the university's bachelor's degrees each academic year.